Week 10 brings a couple of exciting changes to the fantasy football scene. First, we have the return of Thursday night football, which is great for us, the people of fantasy. By the time Thursday rolls around, I’m usually done with my adds/drops and have already filled out my 47th FanDuel lineup, so the Thursday night matchup is a nice way to wet my football whistle before the weekend rolls around. In addition to the return of Thursday night football, we have league trade deadlines quickly approaching. No matter where your team currently resides in the standing, there are still moves to be made as this critical deadline approaches. This week, we will take a look at what moves should be made, from four different vantage points: commish, top dogs, middle men, and the stragglers. Get out a pen and paper (or copy/paste works just fine) and take some notes, because these are the last moves your squad needs to make…and I promise that this article contains no mention of the words “Penn” or “State.” Let’s get to work.
Top Dogs (9-0, 8-1, 7-2 records): If you fall into this category, I hope you’re enjoying Fred Jackson, Matt Forte, and Darren Sproles. As a front runner in your league, you most likely do not have a lot to worry about. Obviously, this is a great situation to be in, but you should still be actively looking to improve your chances for success in the playoffs. Take some time to scroll through the rosters in your league and look players who may be a week or two away from a return from injury. Take advantage of the impressive record that you worked so hard to build, and use your cushion in the standings to make your team a fantasy playoff monster.
Try this: Find out which teams have Andre Johnson and Darren McFadden. If the teams holding onto these players are in a battle for a playoff spot, they likely would welcome some immediate help. A 4-5 team cannot afford to hold onto Andre Johnson through week 10 and his week 11 bye, when they are desperate need of wins. Offer up a solid wide receiver and a lower level running back in exchange for Johnson or DMC. Don’t attempt to low ball the other team too much in this situation, go ahead and throw out Brandon Marshall or Stevie Johnson. Scoring 10 points below your season average in weeks 10 and 11 will be well worth the terrifying team you will roll out when it’s playoff time.
Middle Men (6-3, 5-4, 4-5 records): If your team resides in “middle men” territory, you need to focus on grabbing every possible win for the remaining four regular season weeks. Make getting into the playoffs your top priority, and worry about playoff matchups and strategy once you gain admittance to the party. Be sure to analyze the matchups of your players and potential trade targets for weeks 10-13, and keep an eye on players who have that sneaky week 11 bye. If your team is loaded with Steelers and Saints, you may need to make a drastic move to avoid falling to 5-6 after week 11.
Try this: Target players who have good matchups down the stretch, but that might be easily attainable. For example, if you have week 11 bye week issues, try to make a play for Marshawn Lynch. He is a bit crusty, but he has shown some energy over the last month and gets the Rams in week 11. If that addition could put your week 11 lineup over the top, then do what is needed to land him. Does your depleted stable of backs have a rough set of matchups in week 12? Well, DeAngelo Williams gets the Colts that week, and is a better option than Helu vs. Seattle or Battle vs. Pittsburgh in week 12. Your team is already in a position to make a run, but don’t be afraid to make a move to give you better options down the stretch.
The Stragglers (3-6 records, and worse…): My condolences go out to your Jamaal Charles and Felix Jones backfield, but we can only move forward from here. Although the playoffs could still be possible at 3-6, teams in this range are statistical long shots to reach fantasy glory in 2011. However, that does not mean that “the stragglers” can’t be involved in the trade deadline excitement as well. As long as your trades are not upsetting the integrity of the league (which is covered below), go out and make some deals amongst the other “stragglers” in your league.
Try this: Although your season is on life support, you can still make watching your team enjoyable. Did you miss out on hot waiver pick-ups like Roy Helu and Laurent Robinson? Well, now is the time to go get them. Don’t go crazy and give up Wes Welker for Robinson, but if you love the Cowboys and think Robinson will blow up with Austin out (as I do), then go trade for him. There is no fantasy rule stating that you should sit around and watch your team sink if you start out 2-7. Winning is fun, no matter when it happens. Personally, I take incredible joy in being the 4-8 team that knocks another team out of playoff contention in week 13, so don’t be afraid to stay engaged even if your team is low in the standings.
The Commish: First of all, if you are the commissioner of your league, I applaud you. You have given your buddies/co-workers/random online acquaintances a venue to fulfill their fake football fantasies and for that, you should be proud. Now, as commish, you have one more obligation to your league mates. As the deadline approaches, make sure every team in your league is reminded that the integrity of your league is in their hands. Nothing is worse than watching a 1-8 team trade Arian Foster to a 7-2 team, simply because he doesn’t care about the league anymore. If your league carries a trade “approval vote,” then make sure teams are fully aware of that as well. Nothing demoralizes a league more than an enormous controversy at the trade deadline.
Try this: Hammer out a league-wide bulletin that respectfully reminds all teams that “trade responsibility” is important to maintaining the integrity of your league (this is a pretty dry topic, so please spice the bulletin up with some jokes and take some shots at any 1-8 teams in your league). The point here is to make sure that each team is aware of their responsibility to keep the league competitive and ensure that all trades are well thought out. Not all trades have to be even, as I personally don’t support the trade veto, but no league wants to see Calvin Johnson for Jabar Gaffney at this point in the year.
Good luck in week 10. As always, feel free to leave trade questions in the comments below and don’t be afraid to share your own tactics with the rest of us!